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Summerland’s Iconic ‘Big Yellow House’ Sold

The buyer plans to restore the historic property to accommodate retail tenants

Radius Group Commercial Real Estate announced Tuesday the sale of the iconic Big Yellow House in Summerland.

Scott Glenn and Jason Jaeger with Radius co-listed the property with Grubb & Ellis, and Steve Brown and Austin Herlihy with Radius represented the buyer.

“We have had the Big Yellow House on the market for over a year and couldn’t make a deal stick until January 2011, when all of a sudden we had several competing offers,” said Glenn, principal at Radius Group. “We have not seen multiple offers on commercial property since late 2007. ... We expect more up ahead.”

Summerland, with its vibrant hillside and beachside homes and the big yellow restaurant, represents the entry point into Montecito and Santa Barbara.

The historic structure was built as a private residence by H.L. Williams, founder of Summerland, in 1884. The house was purchased in the early 1970s by John and June Young. June Young had already demonstrated her gift for knowing what would attract attention (she was a founder of Santa Clause Lane), and promptly painted the beige Victorian house yellow with a bright orange roof. The house couldn’t be missed; the community was up in arms.

Nearly 35 years later, the Big Yellow House is indeed still a landmark and holds magical family memories for Santa Barbara residents young and old. For many years, children’s meals were priced “by the pound” — not the food, but the children. Those younger than 10 would be weighed on a large scale and their meals priced accordingly.

June Young died in 2003, and during the ensuing years, her four daughters and stepdaughters agonized over the future of the property. They decided to test the waters with an offer for sale or for lease, and the rest, as they say, is history. The property was sold, but the new buyer never finished his plans and the property subsequently went into foreclosure last spring and was taken over by a mortgage holder in October. Originally listed at just less than $3 million, the last listing price was $1.3 million.

“The buyer is a local investor who intends to restore and upgrade the property to accommodate one or more future retail tenants. He has the patience and the ability to create one of the nicest facilities on the South Coast,” said Brown, one of Radius Group’s four founding principals. “This is not just another sales transaction, but a big plus for the community that a very prominent property that had slipped into disrepair will be restored and returned to a vibrant retail center. We will be looking for a suitable tenant as soon as the restoration begins.”

— Melinda Bie is the director of operations for Radius Group Commercial Real Estate.

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